Imbibing Management Lessons from Sundarkand

The timeless quality of our epics is also reflected by their relevance in day-to-day mundane work and life and also in posing solutions to many of our complex post-modern challenges. For example, a careful reading of Ramayana’s Sundarkand  -the fifth book in Ramayana – can reveal many important management lessons that could be productively employed in the corporate environment.

Awareness and Focus

In Sundarkand, Hanuman, who had forgotten of his latent divine powers, was made to realise his immense potential by Jamwant, the king of bears. In the corporate world, many team leaders and managers often need to act as Jamwant by spotting the untapped potential of her/his team players and making them realise their true potential. For that, of course, the leader needs to know the capabilities of the concerned person better than the person possessing those capabilities, but by acting like Jamwant, she/he can discover champion/s who can propel the company to new heights of growth and excellence. 

In fact, identifying the potential of her/his workforce is one of the important human resource applications for the post-modern manager, which was mirrored in the ancient text.

On his flying trip to Lanka over the ocean, Mainak mountain in the middle of the ocean offers Hanuman to rest for a while, but Hanuman declines the tempting offer, saying he can’t rest till his assigned task by Lord Rama to find Sita is not complete. If management in today’s corporate culture manages to replicate even 10 percent of the type of devotion towards one’s goal with complete focus, as exemplified by Hanuman among its team, it can yield great results. 

Tackling Challenges

On his divine flight to Lanka, Hanuman encountered Surasa, the sea serpent who took the shape of an ogress and threatened to eat Hanuman. Actually, she wanted to test Hanuman at the behest of deities. Surusa also informed Hanuman that he could pass only through her mouth, as per a boon given to her. 

The way Hanuman tackled the situation can inspire today’s management gurus. When Surasa opened her mouth to gobble Hanuman, the devotee warrior made himself ten times bigger. The bigger Surasa made her mouth Hanuman grew himself to be too big for her mouth. This process continued till Surusa increased the size of her mouth by 100 times. Then, in a jiffy, Hanuman assumed a tiny form which was no bigger than a thumb and entered her mouth and left it before she could close her mouth. 

In modern corporate warfare, we, too, need to have the pragmatic wisdom and flexibility of Hanuman to come out triumphant from sudden, challenging situations.

Adversity and Opportunity

Then, when Ravana orders the monkey God’s tail to be set aflame, Hanuman, with his tail on fire, hops from roof to roof and sets the entire Lanka ablaze. This incident from Sundarkand teaches us to convert our adversities into advantages, which is also very relevant in modern-day management. In fact, in today’s highly competitive world, a desirable quality for a successful manager is her/his ability and/or foresight to convert challenges into opportunities.

In Sundarkand, we see how Vibhishan tried to convince Ravana to return Sita, but Ravana in turn insulted Vibhishan, which forced the latter to defect. This wrong decision contributed hugely to Ravana’s downfall. From that incident, managers in office cubicles of the twenty-first century can learn to pay heed to and respect contrarian views and see their logic, even though they may seem unpopular.

Creating an Environment 

On reaching Lanka, Hanuman noticed a tulsi plant in a palace and a small temple with signs of the bow and arrow of Lord Ram. This led him to Vibhishan’s house, who later became a crucial ally in Ram’s victory. That incident could teach our modern management to pay adequate attention to small details, which in turn can yield handsome growth or profits.

When Hanuman saw Sita at Ashok Vatika, he didn’t approach her directly but created an environment around himself by sitting on a tree and singing praises of Lord Ram and then dropping the ring of Lord Ram in front of Sita. That made Sita get assured of Hanuman’s genuineness. 

If Hanuman appeared before her suddenly, there were chances that Sita, who had living with demons for a good period of time since her kidnapping by Ravan, would have viewed the monkey God with suspicion. That incident from Sundarkand can inspire modern management in the corporate world to create a confidence building environment for their team/s, which in turn can contribute to the team’s success.

So we can see that this ancient and timeless text could hold appeal in today’s corporate culture and inspire today’s GM, VP, COO, CEO, etc. to create success models for their growth. 

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